Monday, February 04, 2013

Webstream Explains MOOCs and How To Develop One

As part of the 7th Passport to Technology held at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a keynote address  entitled, "MOOCs,Math and Beyond: Transforming How We [All] Learn" was introduced by Jim Jorstad, Director of Academic Technologies, and presented by Dr. Bob Hoar, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Mathematics.

A MOOC is simply a type of on-line course offered to a large population through the web which may provide certification or potentially credit in some situations.  Many MOOCs are free and open to the public, but academia and corporate representatives are looking for a reasonable value/cost model for potential profitability of the course in the future.

At UW-La Crosse, the Math MOOC began out of the creation of a series of math vodcast learning objects as part of the Institute for Innovation in Undergraduate Research and Learning- IIURL in 2007.  In 2012 a FastTrack program was developed to help students take a refresher course in math to eliminate the need to take remedial math courses in the future, saving students time and money.  The success of the program could be seen in when 97% of the student cohort was successfully placed in a college level math course without having to take a remedial math class.

In late 2012, the FastTrack concept was successful awarded a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant fro $50,000 to test if the MOOC concept was sustainable, scalable  and potentially profitable.  According to Dr. Hoar, as enrollment begin to take shape, over 1400 students from ages 11 to 83 enrolled in the class. Entire elementary education classes have enrolled as well. Over 40 countries are participating in this Math MOOC. The project is being hosted on a Desire2Learn learning management system.

The instructional team for this MOOC includes Associate Professor Jen Kosiak, 2012 recipient of the Teacher Educator of the Year from the Student Wisconsin Education Association [left], Associate Lecturer Maggie McHugh, content expert [middle], and Dr. Bob Hoar, who is overall director of the project [right].

The team is working with a team of instructional technologists to ensure the learning objectives are stable and instructionally sound. The MOOC is going through various modifications as feedback is obtained through students.

On-line office hours are offered to help the students feel they have the necessary support to get through the course.  A twenty-nine question pretest was given to gauge the student's initial math abilities to help gauge the progress they will make. It is hoped that what is learned from this pilot will help in the design of other MOOC in math, as well as in other disciplines.

To learn more about the development and operation of this MOOC, you are welcome to view a special Mediasite web stream of the presentation. Click on the Math MOOC webstream to learn more about this innovative project.

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